The word “trickster” tends to bring to mind some of the most cunning and mischievous characters of history. Loki, Anansi, Hermes, Prometheus, Coyote, Raven and Puck are all famous, or perhaps infamous, tricksters. Such clever troublemakers are a staple of any sort of folktale, myth or legend. You would not, however, think of them as appearing in the Bible. One of the most important characters in the Old Testament, however, would be good friends with any of the classic mythological tricksters. Jacob, who is later called Israel, tricks his father into giving him his older brother’s inheritance, swindles his father-in-law out of most of his livestock and repeatedly uses his wiles to get himself into and out of trouble.
Everyone loves a trickster tale, but tricksters are not great role models for real life. Using deceit to get what you want is no way to live and will only hurt those around you. Like Peter, Jacob later becomes a responsible human being, but he spends quite a while first causing mischief worthy of any trickster.